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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Jul-18


Sunday 22-July-18

Persuasion in the Cathedral: Carrots, Sticks and Friendly Nudges

I was in Leicester Cathedral recently, admiring the tomb of the recently rediscovered remains of King Richard III.

And then I heard a voice from above.

It wasn't heavenly but was serene. Looking around I saw a minister standing at a lectern, addressing everybody, wherever they were. She thanked people for coming and reminded us that, while the cathedral was a wonderful place to visit, it was foremost a place of prayer and worship. She spoke briefly about Jesus, said a prayer, then stood down.

Britain and Europe are full of soaring, incredible cathedrals and churches, and I have visited many of them, yet I have never encountered this before. It was, quite simply, a brilliant piece of soft selling. It took only about ten minutes and contained no fire, damnation or any other classic admonition.

The traditional motivation system of the Christian church is carrot and stick, promising the rather vague glories of heaven for compliance and nastily specific fires of hell for transgression. And my memory of a choirboy youth is that the stick was waved far more than the carrot. It's the 'nasty medicine' school of thought, where pain is considered a necessary step on the road to recovery or learning. However, like the way Shakespeare is often taught in school, it leaves many of its children feeling uncomfortable rather than enthused, and a tendency to flee whenever they hear those familiar intonations.

So it was refreshing and delighting to hear a kind and non-threatening pitch. I also noted the generally inclusive tone, which is probably a good move in Leicester's multicultural climate. So well done Leicester Cathedral. You also had friendly people at the door, chatting without any request for donation, even though there was a collection box right there. It's a good reminder to all of us. Persuasion need not be pressured or direct. A kind word is often the best way to win people over.

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